Monday, 1 March 2010

MF Hussain: Hounding India's greatest artist for political purposes

Renowned painter MF Hussain is among India's most famous artists but today he is forced to take up the citizenship of the tiny Qatar, just because of our collective hypocrisy and failure to take on mob violence.

For centuries, India has celebrated nature and divinity. Our temples bear testimony to the fact that gods and goddesses were depicted in nude. It was not that Husain was the only painter who has made such paintings.

Hindu artists have drawn such paintings and lesser known Muslim artists have followed suit. But Maqbool Fida Husain became a victim of the right-wing communalists because it was an era when controversial issues were discovered so as to create a communal divide and get electoral benefits by consolidating Hindu vote.

Like Ayodhya and Hubli's Idgah Maidan, it was an issue created to polarise electorate and to instil a feeling of victimhood among the 'beleagued Hindu majority populace'. Across India hundreds of cases were registered against Husain, whose exhibitions were attacked and for whom life was made difficult in India.

Threats were issued openly and he was forced to leave the country. The self-styled moral guardians of Hindutva failed to realise that they were taking on man who had taken Indian art to the international fora.

He was already 81. But for the right-wing militants who were attacking galleries wherever Hussain's work was displayed in India, were not bothered. Husain was a big name and whenever they attacked him, it made news.

All these years he has lived abroad, but never uttered a word about what he faced in his own country, his motherland. He has apologised though he needn't do it. He never asked for citizenship and when it was conferred upon him, he simply accepted it.

We, as a nation, have already failed him. We couldn't act when the goons were gunning for the man who is now in his nineties. With his silence and graceful ways, MF Husain who took Indian art to dizzy heights, has shown his detractors in extremely poor light.

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